When I first came across Tuawa’s account, Inspirit Pages, I was stunned to realise she was Nigerian. Not because of the popular misconception that Nigerians don’t read, I mean, look who’s talking, but because I hadn’t come across anyone who collects books the way she does.
This is a hobby I ascribe to foreigners and my brain could barely process this anomaly. Getting to know more about this unorthodox Nigerian has been a real treat and is one of the highlights of my journey as a book blogger.
In this interview, Tuawa shares tips for curating a fabulous bookstagram account, making time to read and why judging a book by its cover isn’t as terrible as advertised.
What inspired you to start your Bookstagram account?
I started reading again after a 2-year reading hiatus and one day I searched for books on Instagram and discovered this beautiful world of books. I was so excited to link up with fellow bookworms so I started a bookstagram account.
Mention 3 things apart from books you’ll recommend to people looking to get into Bookstagram.
- A camera. It doesn’t have to be a professional one. I use my phone to take all my pictures and I think they look ok; so you don’t have to break the bank to start an account.
- Spend some time looking at other bookstagram accounts. You don’t have to know anyone, just search for the #bookstagram hashtag. Looking at different accounts will help you see what others are doing, decide what you do/do not like and help you develop your own taste. That way you’ll know if you prefer a minimalist look for your account or rustic or colourful or monochrome, or a random/spontaneous style. Your taste will continue to evolve so you don’t have to stick with the style you started with.
- Find a monthly photo challenge to take part in, use the #bookstagramphotochallenge hashtag. You can do this for a few months to help you build confidence and help you make new friends, especially since you will be interacting with others that are participating in the same photo challenge. This will also expose you to the bookstagram lingo. I did this when I started my account and it helped me a lot.
What’s the story behind the name, Inspirit Pages?
I started my account with the aim of encouraging people to read and help them discover new books. I wanted my page to be one that inspires and encourages people, hence the name Inspirit Pages. In my case, the account has lived up to its name; I have through the account been inspired by others and discovered lots and lots of new books. I hope my accounts inspires others too.
You have professed your disdain for e-books several times. Would you consider other formats, i.e Audio Books? And why do you still prefer Paper?
I prefer to deal with something tangible, something real, something I can take with me wherever, whenever, whether I am in the desert or in the city centre and something that will never die on me because its battery is not charged. The fact that I can hold a book and flip the pages, highlight my favourite lines or make dog ears if I want to. I like to pick up a book and see how worn out it is from my previous reading and relive the joy I got from reading it the first time.
The fact that I can hold a book and flip the pages, highlight my favourite lines or make dog ears if I want to. I like to pick up a book and see how worn out it is from my previous reading and relive the joy I got from reading it the first time.
I cannot get these things from an eBook; sure, the convenience is there but it doesn’t give me the experience that lasts a lifetime. Besides, books are my way of having daily technology fasts. I stare at screens for the most part of the day – TV, Phone, Computer and staring at paper books for a while give my eyes a much-needed break. As for considering other formats, I am going to reread my favourite classic, Jane Eyre, sometime this year and I’ll be using that as an opportunity to try audio books. Fingers crossed that I’ll like it.
As for considering other formats, I am going to reread my favourite classic, Jane Eyre, sometime this year and I’ll be using that as an opportunity to try audio books. Fingers crossed that I’ll like it.
The sheer quantity of books that pop up on my IG feed is enough to drive one to tears. Exactly how many books do you own?
(covers face) I have actually never counted my books, all I know is that there are lots of them and they have become part of the decor in my home, with at least one in every room. (laughs) For the sake of this interview, I have counted them and there’s just over 600. That’s not too bad eh?
I noticed you buy books for their covers a lot. Is there any book you own more than 5 editions of? Why?
I know they say do not judge a book by its cover but let’s be honest, a book with an attractive cover is more likely to catch your attention than one with a regular cover.
There are actually a few books that I have multiple copies of, most of them I see as investments because they are limited and special editions or out of print so over time their value appreciates and I can sell them and make a reasonable profit off them.
There are other reasons why I have multiple editions of a book, I’ll give you 2 examples:
- I have many copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because some have come as part of a book collection, one has the complete Alice in Wonderland stories and others have full-colour illustrations by different illustrators, these, in particular, will be great for my little ones to read.
- Jane Eyre is my favourite classic and I just love collecting vintage and special editions of the book.
What is your favourite part about curating Inspirit Pages?
Meeting fellow bookworms and exploring my creative side. I have connected with so many lovely people and discovered so many creative accounts.
What has been the most exciting and most disturbing experience you’ve had since you started your page?
The most exciting experience has been people appreciating my little efforts at being creative, reading my reviews and getting me featured on their pages/blogs. It’s been a very humbling but satisfying experience.
My most embarrassing experience happened when I was still new to bookstagram and someone tagged me. I was not too familiar with the lingo and I thought the tag was an invitation to join in another bookstagram photo challenge so I told the lady who tagged me, “What?! Do you want to kill me? Lol, but I will do what I can”.
You see, I was already doing 4 challenges at the time and was struggling with them so the idea of doing one more was really daunting. I didn’t know tags were a one-time thing, pictures were taken to show the action the tag called for and not a month-long photo challenge. The lady and I still communicate but after that incident, she doesn’t visit my page as often as she did before. I guess my reaction scared her away.
As a mother of two young kids, how do you create time to read your books?
I just do. There is never a right time to read so I always seize the chance when I get it. It’s mostly at night after they’ve gone to bed but on rare occasions when they are not pulling or poking one part of my body or remember that they have a human playground around, I am able to read in the afternoons.
What is the first book you remember reading?
That’s a tough question because I cannot remember what it was. The earliest that comes to mind outside of the academic setting is Chataine’s Guardian by Robin Hardy.
Are your kids’ bookworms too? How/When did they start showing interest in books?
You best believe it! They are still young, 3 and 2 years old, so they haven’t actually started reading yet. My eldest loves learning new words so you’ll often find her flipping the pages of her books and asking me what the words are or mean. With all the children books, I’ve got in my home, I think it is inevitable that they’ll become bookworms. Their fate of becoming bookworms was decided when God sent them my way.
Which author are you loving now and what inspires you most about them?
Victor Hugo. I decided to man up and read the 1200 page brick of a book that is Les Miserables. I cannot tell you how wonderful that book is, I am only half way through it but I already know it’s going on my favourites list. Hugo’s skilful storytelling just draws you in and his characters have so much depth to them. I particularly love Les Miserables because of the many moral lessons I have learnt from it.
Tell us the best advice you received recently.
That will have to be advice against pride and both come from books:
“It is certain that one of the paths of virtue leads to the sin of Pride, a bridge built by the devil himself”
– Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
“She learned in this way her first important lesson on her journey upward, that if one stops to parley with Pride and listens to his poisonous suggestions and, above all, if he is allowed to lay his grasp upon any part of one, Sorrow becomes unspeakably more unbearable afterwards and anguish of heart has bitterness added to it.”
– Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I did. You can follow Tuawa on Instagram @Inspirit_pages and read her reviews here. Is there any reader you’ll like to see on this site? Feel free to mention names in the comments.
All photos in this article are the property of Tuawa Adenekan (@inspirit_pages)